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Film Review: Safe House

02/15/2012 10:28AM ● Published by Justin Buettner

Matt Weston (played by Ryan Reynolds) is a rookie CIA agent who finds himself in charge of Tobin Frost (played by Denzel Washington), the most dangerous rogue agent in the world when the safe house where he is posted is taken out by a group of mercenaries. Now on the run Weston must figure out how to stay alive while he trying to figure out who to trust -- all while bringing Frost to CIA custody once again and hopefully alive.

The biggest problem I had with Safe House was the fact that I figured out who the bad guy was within the first few scenes. So later in the film when the big reveal occurred I took a collective yawn, as it was old news to me. The good news is Washington’s performance makes the journey of Tobin Frost an interesting one.

Safe House is a rather pedestrian story, not bad but not great. However adding a major talent like Washington to the film automatically makes it far more entertaining than it has a right to be. He is one of the rare actors who can play the good guy or the bad guy and it makes no difference, he’s just fun to watch. Washington carries a swagger and confidence that seems unmatched. I’d love to see him get a role in a higher quality story as he should get more attention for his acting ability, and films like this will not earn him awards.

Ryan Reynolds does well as the inexperienced agent trying to chase down Tobin Frost. Reynolds seems to rise and fall to the occasion depending on the project. I think he does well when he is surrounded by top tier talent but is not as strong when he tries to shoulder the lead himself.

This is Swedish director Daniel Espinosa’s first big budget film and he proves capable in the role. The pace of the movie was good, but the action in the film is hit and miss. The first few action scenes including a foot chase through a crowded city fair and a break out followed by a car chase are well executed. They were crafted in a way that was exciting and I could follow the action. Later action scenes fall prey to the shaky camera effect, where it becomes hard to make out what exactly is happening.

Like most action thrillers in recent years the movie features some fairly sizable plot holes, but if the movie is entertaining and holds your interest the plot holes don’t matter that much. Safe House manages to entertain. If you are looking for a more intelligent form of a spy film I would suggest perhaps checking out a movie like Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy instead. For Washington fans and people who like light spy action thrillers that have a quick pace and some decent action scenes Safe House  has a lot to like.

Films like Safe House : Unknown, Shooter, and Training Day


Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.

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